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Transcript: Overcoming Barriers: Mary Alice Park, Arlington, Tennessee Video

The successful completion of Mary Alice Park, once the Arlington Blending and Packaging Superfund site, serves as a unique reflection of both neighborhood values and the site’s industrial legacy.

This story details how local leaders, resilient neighbors, and committed staff from the EPA were able to transform this superfund site into an award-winning neighborhood park.

From 1971 to 1978, Arlington Blending and Packaging operated a pesticide-processing facility at the site. Spills and leaks from operations resulted in contaminated soils, sediments, and ground water.

In 1996, under EPA oversight, contaminated soil was excavated, stockpiled, treated, and then placed back on the site.

Despite these cleanup activities, the site remained vacant for years and neighbors were not allowed access to the property.

With support from EPA’s Return to Use Initiative, a group of citizens and representatives from the local government worked to address a range of site cleanup concerns.

Initially, the stigma of the site’s past contamination presented barriers for its reuse. Elected officials were hesitant to reuse a former Superfund site, and many expressed concerns about the town’s taking on liability for the site’s contamination.

But the EPA successfully worked with town officials to address their health and liability concerns. In 2004, EPA also funded a reuse planning effort that helped the residents of Arlington clarify their visions of future recreational uses for the site while ensuring the continued protectiveness of the site’s remedy.

A group of residents from the Mary Alice neighborhood and Town officials worked with a team of consultants to successfully develop a reuse plan to transform the site into a park.

The town acquired the site from its former owner, and received a small adjacent industrial property as a donation from Helena Chemical.

In 2005, the town of Arlington was awarded a $300,000 community development block grant to fund the design and construction of the park.

By October 2006, the collaborative efforts of the Arlington community and EPA had come to fruition and the new Mary Alice Park officially opened to the public. The final result is a park, accessible to all residents of the surrounding residential communities.

EPA participation in the park planning process ensured that construction activities to install playground equipment, half court basketball, and walking trails did not affect the site’s remedy in any way.

The site’s groundwater continues to be monitored for contaminants, so the park’s layout was designed to allow easy access to the monitoring wells for annual sampling.

In 2009, EPA Region 4 acknowledged the hard work of the Arlington community by presenting the Town with its “Excellence in Site Reuse” award.

Mary Alice Park is just one of the many Superfund sites that EPA has made ready for reuse after remediation, and there are just as many Superfund success stories waiting to be written.

For more information:
Superfund Redevelopment Initiative, EPA Headquarters
Frank Avvisato
Melissa Friedland

Keriema Newman, Remedial Project Manager, Region 4
Bill Denman, Superfund Redevelopment Initiative Coordinator, Region 4